WHILE SOME daily-wage workers with Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) have received “zero” salary for May and other workers have got less than Rs 200, the transport undertaking is spending close to Rs 2 lakh per month on chairperson and managing director Naina Gunde, who was transferred to YASHADA.
A corporator has complained against the PMPML administration to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for “ignoring” the plight of daily wage workers while spending a “massive sum” on a transferred officer.
The PMPML had asked 2,200 daily wage workers to sit at home since March when a nationwide lockdown was enforced. It argued that only 10 per cent of its bus fleet was on roads and, therefore, it was not making revenue to even pay salaries of permanent employees.
Hema Narwade, a widow who lives with her two college-going daughters in a rented chawl room, has received a salary of Rs 175. Her monthly expenditure, including house rent is Rs 15,000. Narwade works with the PMPML as a Class IV employee. Onkar Suryavanshi, a fitter from Bhosari area, received Rs 195 as salary. He got married just six months ago and lives with his wife, mother and brother. His monthly expenditure is also around Rs 15,000.
Narwade and Survayanshi received some money, but others like Manisha Bomble of Bhosari, Mayur Bhakre of Kharalwadi and Unani Kusum received no salary at all. Their monthly expenditure is more than Rs 1,000. Some workers have received Rs 1,000 or Rs 1,500 salary. They earned around Rs 15,000 per month before the lockdown.
“We never told them we wanted to sit at home. Due to lockdown, they forced us to sit at home. We are waiting to return to work, but PMPML is not taking us back and is not even giving us salaries. Can a woman run her house on a salary of Rs 175?” asked Sangeeta Barne, who led a delegation of the woman employees to Pimpri-Chinchwad Mayor Usha Dhore on Saturday.
Barne said they had heard that PMC and PCMC commissioners had decided to provide funds. “But, so far, we have got nothing,” she added.
Corporator Seema Savale of the PCMC, also a former director of the PMPML, in a letter to the chief minister, has complained that the PMPML was violating central government directives and ignoring appeal made by the Prime Minister.
In the letter, Savale has also stated that the PMPML administration was spending Rs 2 lakh every month on CMD Naina Gunde, who has been transferred to YASHDA, the government’s training institute, in March. “While the poor are getting salaries of Rs 175, PMPML administration is spending Rs 2 lakh on house rent, car, driver and other expenses of the CMD who has been transferred,” she asked.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Savale said, “The PMPML administration was taking decisions without consulting the board of directors, which include PMC and PCMC commissioners. PMC and PCMC are the real owners of PMPML. They are ready to pay salaries to the daily wage workers.”
Gunde, however, denied that the PMPML administration was deliberately denying making payment to the daily wage workers. “We do not have revenue even to pay salaries of our permanent staff, then how will we pay the daily wage earners? Besides, there is also a Supreme Court order in this connection… If we get funds from PCMC and PMC, we will immediately pay the salaries of daily wage workers. We are yet to get money from PMC and PCMC,” Gunde said.
Gunde also said, “I am holding the charge of PMPML because no reliever has come in my place. I would be happy to be with YASHADA, which has its own accommodation facility.”
As for the expenditure on her, Gunde said, “They are getting personal… I do not want to get into an argument with anyone. I would relieve PMPML charge as soon as the government makes a new appointment.”
Shravan Hardikar, PCMC commissioner, one of the directors of PMPML, said the civic body would pay whatever amount was required. “They should not be deprived of salaries during the lockdown period. The PCMC will do its best. The matter is before the board of directors, meeting for which will be held soon,” he said. Shekhar Gaikwad, PMC commissioner, too said PMC would step forward to pay salaries to poor employees.
Activist Prashant Inamdar said if the government was finding it difficult to get a replacement for Gunde, then Hardikar should be given additional charge. “This has happened several times in the past. Hardikar has been around for three years and is well versed with PMPML functioning now,” Inamdar said.
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